We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Friday, 28 January 2011

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans

John Lennon was so right when he sang "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans" and life has happened to me. This year I am resuming my studies but doing so via correspondence, I was supposed to do 1 module a semester for a year's worth of Classical Studies, but instead everything has been put into the first semester, so I might be quiet for a while on the book blogging front as the year progresses, but hopefully I can still fit in a fair amount of reading.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Someone like You

I found this book for an absolute steal last year as I wrote before and was over the moon because I love Roald Dahl, I started reading it, and was shocked. I usually associate Dahl with his children's stories which I devoured when I was younger, so I was shocked to discover his more adult works. Let me just clarify what I mean when I say I was shocked, Dahl to me is the king of children's stories, so to see how magnificently he wrote before transitioning to children's literature is just something that wow's me. Dahl truly was a genius.

I have read 4 stories from the anthology so far, with Lamb to the Slaughter coming up as my favourite - it is just so cleverly written and thought out that if you have not read it before I urge you to go and read it NOW!! It is so difficult to try and tell you about Lamb to the Slaughter because I don't want to give away any spoilers, I can just say that it is a murder mystery - a delightfully clever one at that.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

2011 Week 3: A review

So there was not much to distinguish week 3 from weeks 1 and 2, other than my great disappointment at the Cricket on Friday. Let us just say the less said the better. It was a terribly hot week, with rain bringing relief, but at the wrong time on Friday, but anyway...

So my sister left for university, she is at NMMU and going through week 1 of 3 of orientation. Ridiculous if you ask me coz the one week we had at Rhodes was enough. I read 2 books last week, none of them planned - I read book 2 and 4 from the Ghost Hunter Mystery Series, which I will post on once I have read all 5.

It truly was an unremarkable week, so there is not much to say for it except my concern at the dramatic changes in climate. Flooding, droughts, hailstorms - it is all so severe. Perhaps the end will come in 2012, I will just be sad that I have not read all the books I wanted to if it comes to that. But now I am becoming too sombre. Let us just hope that week 4 will be better. Happy Reading!

The wandering reader

Not all who wander are lost said Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings, and I have to agree with that, but the more I wander in my reading, the further I digress from my goals or I should rather say my target list. Last week I started with such good intentions, and planned on reading The Catcher in the Rye so that I could tick it off of my list for the Back to the Classics challenge, but then I got the Obsidian newsletter with all their new books for this month and got completely side-tracked! I got drawn in by Victoria Laurie's Ghost Hunter Mystery Series and well, let us just say that I am hooked!!!

I managed to track down 3 of the 5 available books, and well I would love to have them to add to my personal collection, so they are going onto the list of books that I wish to acquire this year. I am planning on ordering the Art of War from Leisure Books, and that will be a book to tick off the list. But again I digress, I tend to get myself lost in books, and with so many amazing books to choose from it is hardly surprising. Does it ever happen to you that you set out to read a certain book and then get distracted by a series of books?

So this week I aim to read The Catcher in the Rye, but have also given myself some leeway to read the newest book in the Bewitching Mystery Series. I am such a junkie for series, I just have to read fast as half the week is already done.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

August Peonies

Lallygagging on bent stems, late
this year because of the snow
in May, their rag-tag magenta
cluster-heads freshen the still heat
like a rush of wind in the leaves
or the cool brush of deep sea
crinolines as the ripple kiss
of a breeze opens their bunched petals
just enough to let them breathe
before they ease back
into light repose, poised
at the edge of time-lapse
attention, like us, who lose
momentum in the heavy air
rich with the scent of ripening
wheat that drifts in from the fields
over the slow-moving river
as the afternoon nods and lengthens
into shade, into thoughtfulness,
and the sky deploys an argosy
of softly tinted clouds, fresh
blooms without stems
that sail where we cannot
go, all the way to the edge
of everything where daylight looks
back, once, then disappears.

George Amabile

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Going away for the weekend, leaving today to catch the Cricket tomorrow. SA vs India live in Port Elizabeth - the highlight of my summer, until U2 ofcourse, so will post about the week and book reviews when I get back on Sunday, so expect posts up on Monday

Monday, 17 January 2011

Reading The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is one of my all time favourite books, as Salinger is one of my favourite authors. So when the Back to the Classics Challenge called for a book read at highschool or university to be read, I immediately thought of The Catcher in the Rye, since I have been meaning to re-read it for a while now.

Aside from being a big Salinger fan, I am also a great fan of John Lennon, so I always find it somewhat poignant that my favourite book is the book that his assassin had on his person. But that is just one of those things. So look forward to my review of The Catcher in the Rye some time this week.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Challenges and read-a-longs I have signed up for

For next month I have signed up for the read-a-long of Oliver Twist at A Literary Odyssey. I am very excited about this as it will be my first Dickens. I just hope that my Cape Town trip won't interfere with my reading too badly. I have also signed up for a Jane Eyre read-a-long hosted by Whitney at She is too Fond of Books. This is the schedule for Jane Eyre:

March 4 - 18: Chapters 1 - 9
March 18 - April 1: Chapters 10 -17
April 1 - 15: Chapters 18 - 23
April 15 - 29: Chapters 24 - 29
April 29 - May 13 Chapters 30 - 36
May 13 - 27: Chapters 37 - 38 (Conclusion)

This is the reading schedule of Oliver Twist as found on A Literary Odyssey

  • Post 1 will go up on February 10th (Monday) and will cover Book 1 (roughly 180 pages-the longest section)
  • Post 2 will go up on February 19th (Wednesday) and will cover Book 2 (roughly 120 pages)
  • Post 3 will go up on February 28th (Monday) and will cover Book 3 (roughly 140 pages)
I have also decided to join the Narnia read-a- long also hosted by Whitney at She is too Fond of Books, with the schedule as follows:

February 6 - 20 : The Magician's Nephew
February 20 - March 6 : The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
March 6 - 20: The Horse and His Boy
March 20 - April 3: Prince Caspian
April 3 - 17: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
April 17 - May 1: The Silver Chair
May 1 - 15: The Last Battle

Then ofcourse there is the Back to the Classics Challenge which runs up to the end of June. So look out for reviews on some really awesome books!

At the Hatchery

The woman who wears dark glasses large as goggles
has her hand wrapped around the elbow of the young woman
who is beautiful. Where does it come from,
this compulsion not just to know their thinking

but to live inside her for a while, the one
whose eyes are hidden as she stares down
into the impoundment where the salmon who swum upriver
end their travels? It must sound large to her, the clang

a loose piece of metal makes against the cement wall
whenever a fish leaps in its fury, I am claiming
the privilege to impute its fury as we listen to them
thrash. Dozens were killed an hour ago

because their fate is better if the eggs are stripped
than if they're left to their fandango
in the frothing of the creek. I have tried to live inside them too,
these fish who strain against the world, or into it, why

am I not so intent on battling my way into the young woman
who moves from one thing to another without hurry?
I would eavesdrop, but they talk in Spanish,
thwarting my attempt to learn if the blind woman can detect

the coolness radiating from the pile of slush, all that remains
of the ice in which the dead were packed
before being trucked off to the food bank: if she could see
she'd see the vapor rising, as from a campfire not quite put out.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

2011 Week 2: A Review

So week 2 of 2011 has flown by even faster than week 1, and I have managed to finish 2 books, which I am glad is more than my very conservative goal of 1 a week. The first being Rebecca, which I posted on earlier, and the second Awakened the 8th book in the House of Night Series. Rebecca I thought was marvellous, definitely a book that I will read again. I found that the narrator reminded me some what of myself, but that is not something that I will go into here... Awakened was a quick read, I must say that I am getting more and more into the House of Night Series as I go along. And I have just noticed that I have not posted on them, that is something that I must do.

So my best friend went back to Cape Town today, to sort out and agent and a manner of other things. It was nice having him home for a while. We had a fudge day on Wednesday which is something that we started in high school but have not done for a while. 3 of the 4 fudge's came out well, with the fourth being unmentionable, and the cupcakes, let me not even mention them. I suppose we are just rusty after a long break in between fudge days. And I had a dentist's appointment afterward, such an anti-climax to my day. Had lunch with Shaun the next day which was cool, like when we were at school.

I did not really do much this week as it has been terribly hot, with tomorrow being forcast as 37 degrees celcius. I just hope it will cool down and that there will be no rain on Friday as I will be going to the Cricket. This is pretty much my last week of freedom and doing when I want to whenever I want to as my sister leaves for Uni this weekend. But I am not going to stress about that yet, will rather cross that bridge when I get there.

Well that was my week, hardly thrilling, but I am counting down the days to my Cape Town trip to see U2. I so HAVE to meet BONO. I plan on reading The Catcher in the Rye and book 3 in the Chronicles of Narnia Series - The Horse and his Boy, so look out for reviews on those books. The Catcher in the Rye is for the Back to the Classics Challenge.

Happy Reading to you all out there, have a great week :)

Rebecca: The Review

Imagine being in love with a man that you have known for only a fortnight. Imagine him rescuing you from your otherwise mundane life as a hired companion to a woman who is tiresome. Imagine being married to this man who you love so much but becomes grave when thinking about the past, and his late wife whom you never talk about. Imagine being haunted by the ever lurking memory of his late wife as you start your life together at his home. This is the scene that is set in Rebecca.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

The novel begins in the present, as seen above and it becomes apparent to the reader that the narrator no longer lives at Manderley. We never learn the name of the narrator, which is very relevant because of the title she gets when she marries Maxim de Winter. Despite Maxim saying to her
'You have a very lovely and unusual name.'
The narrator is still young and unsure of herself and of who she really is and in marrying and becoming the new Mrs de Winter - her identity or rather her finding of her identity is stunted by the way the spirit or memory of the previous Mrs de Winter is still alive around Manderley. It is only when she hears the truth about Rebecca from Maxim that she truly comes into her role as Mrs de Winter.

The new Mrs de Winter feels compelled to run the household as the former Mrs de Winter - Rebecca - had. Wheneve she asks for something, a reply from a member of staff would be Mrs de Winter always did this, Mrs de Winter did it like that. Our narrator feels insecure, and inadequate since she is nothing like Rebecca who was adored by everyone and was capable of everything. With even Maxim's sister Beatrice noting

"you are so very different from Rebecca."

Our narrator's greatest challenge comes in the form of the housekeeper Mrs Danvers who one could describe as a disciple of Rebecca. She has kept Rebecca's bedroom the same as it was when Rebecca was alive. Treating Rebecca's old room and possessions almost as a shrine. Mrs Danvers despises the narrator, and almost gets her to commit suicide. Mrs Danvers connives to make the narrator's life miserable.

Rebecca's memory haunts the narrator as everyone remarks what a great hostess she was. She begins to think that because of the ineptitude that she feels that Maxim could never really love her. But then the action that occurs to stop Mrs Danvers in succeeding to get our narrator to commit suicide is what gets Maxim to confide in our narrator and bring them closer.

As I relaxed my hands and sighed, the white mist and the silence that was part of it was shattered suddenly, was rent in two by an explosion that shook the window where we stood. The glass shivered in its frame. I opened my eyes. I stared at Mrs Danvers. The burst was followed by another, and yet a third and fourth. The sound of the explosions stung the air and the birds rose unseen from the woods around the house and made an echo with their clamour.

A ship is run aground because of fog, and because of this Rebecca's boat is discovered with a body inside. Maxim tells his wife what an awful person Rebecca really was - delighting in having affairs and making Maxim miserable. Fooling everyone around her with her charm and beauty. This truly brings about a change in their relationship as all his wife can think about is that Maxim never loved Rebecca.

Things become complicated for Maxim, as Rebecca's cousin tries to blackmail him, but Maxim does not fall into his trap. With some things about Rebecca being exposed. Just as you think Maxim and the narrator will return to Manderley and have a happily ever after ending, you are reminded of why the novel starts

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

I tried very hard to summarise without giving away any spoilers. I hope I have succeeded. But now for my review:

Rebecca is exquisitely written, du Maurier truly weaves a picture with her writing. She puts things so beautifully - Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers. The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leant close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church.

The story that she has put together is just beautiful, a gothic novel that absorbs the reader wholly in reading it. Although there is no actual ghost present, both Maxim and the narrator are hauted by her ghost until her boat is found. The way that she is Mrs de Winter but is not truly Mrs de Winter until she banishes the ghost of Rebecca that taunts her in the way that the household is run. It is in learning that she is nothing like Rebecca that she truly comes into herself. A very introspective story from the point of view of the narrator.

I liked Maxim from the beginning, a bit like the narrator I suppose. I hated it when he became withdrawn from her, not letting her know what is getting to him. I felt such relief when he finally confided in her and allowed her to become his equal. I also liked the narrator, whilst she was with Mrs van Hopper she had my sympathy - to have to put up with someone like that as a job...

When finally we see Manderley, I liked Frith and Robert, although I think they should have treated the narrator a bit better. I disliked Mrs Danvers from the very start, I don't know why Maxim didn't just sack her when they got back. The way she treated the narrator like a petulent child was just awful. I am just glad that at the end the narrator is no longer afraid of or intimidated by Mrs Danvers, and that she and her husband finally have the relationship that she deserves.

I loved reading this book and it is now one of my favourite novels.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Reading Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has been a book I have wanted to read for a while now, and thanks to the Read-a-long hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey, I have finally started it.

The way that du Maurier writes this book is almost lyrical. The way she describes things is just amazing, take this one line, which could have been said plainly but is said so beautifully

She paused, expecting him to smile, but he went on smoking his cigarette, and I noticed, faint as gossamer, the line between his brows.

and even this:

The sea, like a crinkled chart, spread to the horizon, and lapped the sharp outline of the coast, while the houses were white shells in a rounded grotto, pricked here and there by a great orange sun.

I am half way done with Rebecca, so a review on Rebecca will be up soon. I urge you to sign up for the read-a-long at A Literary Odyssey as this book is one that has to be read.

Practical Magic: The Review

I adored the movie Practical Magic and was very excited when I discovered that it was a book too. I had high hopes for the book, but was a bit disappointed because it didn't flow the way I would have liked it to. So let's get into the review, shall we.

Practical Magic is about the Owen's sisters who found themselves orphaned and had to live with their two aunts. Living with their aunts they become poreias because everyone fears the Owens house and what goes on there. Everyone except the desperate women who want their love interest to notice them, or who want their husbands to stop straying. These women come to the aunts to help solve their problems. It is in observing the help that the aunts offer to these desperate women that shapes Sally and Gillian's views on love and what it does to you.

Gillian leaves home one night and sets off on an adventure that she doesn't return from till she is 36. Sally however lives with the aunts, and one day when a bird does not appear in the house decides that it is okay to love and marries Michael from the hardware store. They live happily until fate intervenes, and Sally leaves much the way Gillian did. Gillian returns to Sally to help her after her bad boyfriend Jimmy dies.

I will stop there as I wish to intrigue and not give away anything with spoilers. Practical Magic is well written, but it does not flow as I would have liked it to.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A teaser, to intrigue you

FOR MORE THAN two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town. If a damp spring arrived, if cows in the pasture gave milk that was runny with blood, if a colt died of colic or a baby was born with a red birthmark stamped onto his cheek, everyone believed that fate must have been twisted, at least a little, by those women over on Magnolia Street. It didn't matter what the problem was—lightning, or locusts, or a death by drowning. It didn't matter if the situation could be explained by logic, or science, or plain bad luck. As soon as there was a hint of trouble or the slightest misfortune, people began pointing their fingers and placing blame. Before long they'd convinced themselves that it wasn't safe to walk past the Owens house after dark, and only the most foolish neighbors would dare to peer over the black wrought-iron fence that circled the yard like a snake.

2011 Week 1: A review

So it is shocking how we are already a week into 2011. My goal to read a book a week is not going as well as I would have liked. It is always more difficult to make progress on my reading when everyone at home is on holiday. Although I must say it is nice not being alone at home with Jayden for much of the day. That will change soon as my mom goes back to school on the 17th and my sister heads off to university that same week, so lonely days will be longer. But that just means more time to read granted that Jayden is enthralled by his books.

Jayden is my nephew whom I am looking after whilst I am back at home wrapping up my studies. He is 1 and a half and already a book lover. This makes me very excited as when he is older I can share my childhood favourites with him. But this is a major digression from what I had set out to write. Despite being behind in my reading, I am halfway through the first of two books that I am reading. The first as you know from a previous post is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, and the second is one that I signed up for at A Literary Odyssey - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. So look out for a post on du Maurier as well as Rebecca; the latter will be up toward the end of this month.

So this week went by terribly quickly, as weeks of holiday often do. I actually did not do much as it is just too hot to even go outside. I did get my stationary for the year though (my excitement about this just shows what a nerd I am).

Maybe it is good that this week has been rather quiet, as I believe one should ease into a new year, as opposed to being on edge and worked up right from the start. So look out for my post on Daphne du Maurier and another exciting poem on Sunday and have a wonderful weekend where I hope you all will do much reading.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Alice Hoffman, the woman behind Practical Magic

I was very excited when I started reading about Alice Hoffman, she is one of th every few people who have the same birthday as me. She was born in New York and has an MA from Stanford University.

She has a string of novels behind her name and wrote the script for Independence Day. And has had four of her novels turned into movies. I am reading one of her novels - Practical Magic so watch this space for a post on it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Saturday, 1 January 2011


2011 is almost 19hours old, and it still feels surreal. I cannot believe that it is a new year! But here we are at the beginning of a new year that has so many things in store for us that we can't even imagine. I have decided to be a bit more conservative in my goal amount of books for 2011, and I hope I will exceed my target of a book a week. I have decided to keep it this low because this year will be very different to last year; I will be studying again, but through UNISA and not at a full time university. So wish me luck with that.

I have reverted back to the old blogger template. I think it is more dramatic, and less distracting than the previous one. It makes you focus more on the words. I am still deciding what it is that I want to achieve on my blog this year, but I am sure I will figure it out soon. I have one resolution for this year, and that is to be excellent, so I will try my absolute best to be more consistant in my posting.

I have already started reading my first book for the year - Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Which is quite different from the movie that was released. I hope that it will be better than the movie, as books generally tend to be.

There are several books that I read last year that I have not yet posted on, so I hope to post about all of them. Have a wonderful Saturday, and see you for Poetry Sunday.